A solitary plane is interrupted by footage of firefighters in Belfast. Then glimpse the Europa, nicknamed the ‘hardboard hotel’, after the wood used to cover the bomb-shattered glass. Despite being Belfast most bombed building and one of the most bombed hotels in Europe it has only closed its doors twice. Their proud motto throughout the ‘Troubles’ remained ‘we never close’. Finally fly down the motorway past the diesel trains to watch the marching bands in Portadown.
The Europa Hotel was developed by the Ulster Transport Authority. When it opened its doors in 1971 a double room cost £8 and a single room just £4.75. Since then it has been both a base for international journalists reporting on the conflict in Northern Ireland and a refuge for Hollywood stars hiding from the paparazzi.
The BFI player features several of A.H. Martin’s personal films which capture the lost gems of public transport in Northern Ireland. You can see the Great Northern Railway Terminus before it was demolished in 1969 to build the Europa Hotel in his film ‘Full Steam Ahead to Dublin’.
Northern Ireland Screen's Digital Film Archive is a free public access resource for teachers, students, historians and anyone who has an interest in moving images. Spanning from 1897 to the present day, the films in the Digital Film Archive cover all aspects of life in Northern Ireland and includes everything from dramas to documentaries, newsreels and features, animation to amateur footage.